Wataru Uekusa: The Existential Crisis and Anime

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Remember how I promised I’d bring out more editorials? Well, here’s me keeping that promise.

I’ve always wanted to do a series revolving around the actual creators behind the content we enjoy, and so for these next few editorials, I’ll talk about Japanese artists — illustrators, writers, directors — and the type of influences they bring into the works they create.

For this editorial, I’ll be talking about Wataru Uekusa, a relatively low-profile artist as far as anime is concerned, but a well-known illustrator who possesses a very unique art style that combines deceptively juvenile characters with violently surreal artistic flourishes. So sit back and relax as we explore more about the colorfully chaotic world of Wataru Uekusa.

(NB: this article has a preamble, but future articles will simply head straight into the topic.) Continue reading

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Anime and the Love of Headphones 3

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Helloooo there!

Since I’ve decided to let the season finish itself before returning to weekly thoughts, I figured I spend the time returning to some of the unique articles that I had stashed away in the back of my head. In particular, it’s a return of the prodigal Anime and the Love of Headphones segment, where I talk about all things gloriously audiophile and anime. Indeed, I’ve noticed a small spike in viewers looking at the old posts — in particular, a comment from a certain Shawn Cayago requesting for more. Don’t worry buddy, your words have been heard.

For this entry, we take a look at none other than our headphone-clad digital princess, Hatsune Miku. Though she isn’t strictly an “anime character” per se, her origins in the self-published music and arts community earn her a special place in the hearts of anime fans, alike. So sit back and enjoy this short return to our introspection into animated figures gracing the frames of real-life audio equipment! Continue reading

[Essay] Chitose vs. the World: the Millennial Struggle and Anime

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Let’s get the obvious out of the way, first. Chitose Karasuma’s character from the show gi(a)rlish number can be insufferable at times, where she often comes off as ridiculously obnoxious or self-entitled. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration, either, to say that her unwieldily attitude was the reason that many people dropped the show early on during its Fall 2016 run. There’s also the fact that some people unfortunately compared the show to Shirobako given its setting within the anime industry, which made it subject to slews of criticism that smacked down on the show’s overly caricature-ish depiction of the anime production process (and I’m talking to you, Kuzu-chan).

But on closer inspection, the show seems less a satire on that industry than it is, really, a satire on the millennial mindset and the struggles they face in the modern day workplace. And this only becomes much clearer come the latter half of the series when it explores the troubled career paths of its two industry veterans, Momoka and Kazuha. This also probably lends more strength to the argument that anyone who felt irked by Chitose’s unruliness is perhaps not so different from her in a more literal sense. But take note, Chitose being a satire on the millennial mindset means that she is obviously exaggerated, meaning her character is pretty much the personification of anything and everything that infuriates you on Facebook or Twitter multiplied by ten. So even if you refuse to see yourself in her, that’s probably just a sign that the issues of the troubled millennial are not so estranged from you as you’d like to think. Continue reading

[Rant] Composition and Anime

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Warning: this is gonna be a rant.

I haven’t really done rants on this blog yet, but suffice it to know that I actually do it quite often. Every season, there’s always a show or two that just doesn’t meet up to your standards, but every now and then there’s that one show that is just so amazingly bad that it manages to even be offensive. The last show I remember that reached that magnitude of awfulness was Kuma Miko back in Spring 2016… The culprit this season is none other than Occultic;nine.

And there are many reasons to hate this show — from its highly convoluted premise, to its heavy reliance on conspiracy theories turned chuunibyou-technobabble nonsense — but if there’s one thing to absolutely despise in this show, it’s the god awful cinematography and composition.

And I think I have enough experience in Photography (having grown up under the tutelage of a serious hardcore film camera-weilding father) to say that none of the compositional sense in this show makes… er, sense. Although the sensibilities in still photography and cinematography may differ, they share the same principles in basic framing and composition. Heck, just look at the mess of shots there are in this show! Continue reading

Translating Anime (Shirobako Style)

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I’d like to take a step back from the anime for a moment to share with you something that many of you might not be aware of regarding the anime/manga you enjoy. It goes without saying that before you can even engage with the media, you need to understand it — and that’s where translators come in. Yes, I’m a translator. I’ve “worked” as a freelance translator in the “scanslation” scene for nearly a decade before going professional on a per project basis. Since I work full-time as a medical professional, I can only offer my services whenever I have the time, so this arrangement of working whenever there’s an opening works for me. And that means most of the time, I’m doing translation checks or other small bit translations (i.e. sign boards, SFX in manga, etc.). So chances are, you might have come across something in animeland that was translated, in part, by yours truly.

It sounds cool and all, and true — it does feel good being able to bring stuff out for other people to enjoy. But being on the supply side of the equation does have its downsides. And much of what I’m referring to is the backlash that you’ve probably heard of in the form of complaints in localization. Ew, the dubs suck. Subs were better. They changed the script so much, they totally re-wrote everything! Where are the honorifics? They’re whitewashing my anime, wtf!? 

Sound familiar? There’s a whole discussion behind preferences in localization and how a sort of heirarchy of anime supremacists have come about — the upper echelons of which are occupied by long-time “veterans” in the hobby who bemoan the degradation of anime into an industry of mass-production catering to “lesser” individuals that were “late on the bandwagon”. But I’m not here to talk about how a fragmented fanbase of anime/manga enthusiasts describe the media they consume. I’m here to give you an idea of what it’s like to be a translator, and perhaps give you a little insight as to why the media you enjoy (or loath) so much is in the form it is today. Continue reading

Anime and the Love of Headphones 2

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Yup, it’s that time of the week again where I ramble about anime and all things gloriously audiophile. Last week, we talked about Mio Akimiya from K-ON! and the famous AKG K701 reference headphones. In fact, AKG has made many other iconic headphones whose eye candy-like design has made it the object of many animators to include in shows. Case in point these next pair of cans worn by none other than Hifumi Takamoto from last season’s comedy/slice-of-life NEW GAME!! Continue reading

Anime and the love of Headphones

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First off, I’d like to welcome you guys to a new column entitled Anime and the love of Headphones, which I plan on running for a couple articles. As a short introduction, I’m actually a big personal hi-fi audio geek. It’s probably a hereditary thing since each guy in my family seems to have their own personal preference for audio. For my father, it’s home audio systems; my brother is an expert in car audio (and he even serves as a professional judge in some gigs); for me, it’s headphones and other high-performance audio recording equipment.

Which makes watching anime all the more fun when they cameo real-life equipment in a show. It’s a fact that the headphone market has seen a marked boost in popularity after the release of Beats by dr. dre, and other commercials/celebrities that promote these headsets as forms of fashion statements simply add to the whole headphone craze. And though it might serve as a touch of class in anime for the casual viewer, it’s a pleasant little easter egg for headphone enthusiasts like me when I see a model that I’ve either tested in the past or better yet own myself.

So in these next few articles, I’ll pay tribute to some of the great headphone models that have made their cameo appearances in well known anime (and even manga). I’m pretty sure some of you might have spotted some of these models before, but here’s the point where I share a little extra trivia on what you might not have known about these wonderful pieces of ear jewelry. Heck, you might even be inclined to buy them yourselves!

So enough chit-chat and let’s get started! Continue reading